Ryan Seacrest, Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr., and Keith Urban.
Ahead of its fall programming presentation to advertisers this afternoon, Fox announced today that the 15th season of American Idol, which will begin in January 2016, will be the last.
Ratings for Idol have slid precipitously over the last few seasons, but in the words ofJoe Adalian at Vulture, “Idol was, for much of its run, the most dominant show on television — by a mile.” It’s hard to remember now, but there was a time when putting up a show against Idol was close to announcement that it was unimportant to whatever network was airing it. It was the broadcast television version of a stomping monster that took out small cities.
The original dream of propelling star after star into the heavens didn’t pan out as producers might have hoped, but the show has its list of famous alums: winners Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood went on to be straight-up superstars, Phillip Phillips grabbed onto the popularity of Mumford-and-Sons-y Americana as it flew by and did well for himself, other finalists like Fantasia Barrino and Constantine Maroulis went to Broadway, and a lot of others have had perfectly good careers putting out records even if they haven’t been as widely recognized as the grandest of champions. Clay Aiken even ran for Congress. (And Jennifer Hudson! Who won an Oscar! And who I originally forgot because that’s how much I no longer associate her with this show.)
It seemed at one time like Idol was a show that would ebb and flow but never die, likeSaturday Night Live. But Fox has other plans and other priorities, there’s competition from other performance shows and other competition shows, and as it turns out, very few things are Saturday Night Live.
So now, Ryan Seacrest will be the man who only seems to have 99 jobs. We’ll have much, much more about fall schedules as this week of TV news progresses.
In recent years, AI has been trumped by better shows and hurt by publicity stunt judging decisions. AI will go down in the annuls of great television and always be known as the king of the singing competition show, but unfortunately when you stick around too long, the glare of greatness is dimmed by the tarnish of mediocrity.